Are Air-Cooled Porsche meet-ups about the driving or socializing?
Driving your air-cooled Porsche is a unique experience but just as important is the socialization experience and the friends you make. Air Brigade started out as a way to exercise the air-cooled Porsches that sit in the garage too much, but it has now become a group of friends getting together using the driving of their air-cooled Porsches as an excuse.
The August 2020 Air Brigade Big Laurel drive featured great roads, but also consisted of six hours of spirited mountain driving with just a lunch hour of socializing. Everyone enjoyed the thrilling roads but everyone was also dead-tired at the end of the day.
For a change-up, the Commander decided the September drive would focus on socializing with a little bit of driving. This would be the first drive in the three-year existence where socialization would be the dominant element of the day.
The change in focus didn’t deter the sign-up as the drive was maxed out at 15 air-cooled Porsches covering the range from a 356, to two 914’s (including a 914-6 and a limited edition Bumblebee) and multiple 911’s, from the Commander’s new 1968 Outlaw to multiple G-Series 911’s, a couple of 964’s and a 993.
The drive schedule used a lovely park in Fletcher, NC for the meet-up and a half-hour of socializing and studying and talking cars. Charlie’s ’72 911 ended up needing attention in the shop so he volunteered to drive Sweep in the Cayenne while Larry had to cancel at the last minute bringing us down to 13 air-cooled Porsches and a Support Vehicle.
Departure proved challenging as we had a left-turn out of the park. During the scout-drive it was easy to pull out; not so lucky today. After waiting and waiting for a long clearing it was decided we had to go, even though the realization was that the line would be split. It happened, the line split and then the line got split again by stoplights before the first left off the commuter road onto the “driving roads.”
As the Commander in the lead vehicle I was dealing with a new car only two-days old trying to figure out how it drove along with trying to keep 14 vehicles in sight and together in a line. The first left proved troublesome, as the whole line didn’t make the turn. Eleven of us stopped and waited, and waited but finally decided we had to move on. Luckily Charlie in our sweep vehicle was able to corral the errant cars and pull then back to the line.
The conga-line of Porsches proceeded up and over Bearwallow Mountain while the new lead 911 Outlaw struggled with hitting shifts while getting used to the dogleg shift pattern, the power and loading up of the Webers if the revs weren’t kept up.
At fifty-minutes into the drive we reached our destination of Point Lookout Vineyards for an extended break of socializing while enjoying a glass of wine. The view was spectacular on this beautiful Wednesday afternoon as a party ensued in the Vineyard. I think everyone enjoyed the talk and laughing as much as the driving. Maybe I was onto something; hardcore driving my not always be the requirement.
After an hour, I am not sure everyone was ready to leave but we had dinner planned at the Straightaway Café in Black Mountain and when you are booking for 26 people you have to be fairly timely for an arrival.
The straightforward way to get to the Straightaway is down 64 to 9, but the I designed a driving byway into the mix that threw the line off. At US-64 the line crossed the road and headed for some twists and turns. The rear of the line didn’t quite trust what they saw as Buck’s “Not Pink” America Roadster headed across 64 towards they thought to his house. Allen and Bev thought Buck was heading home as opposed to the drive continuing in this direction so they turned down 64 and took the rest of the line with them.
They missed some fun driving as the I was more comfortable in the new car and picked up the pace. Peter and Claudia in their 912 and Rob in his 964 stayed close as the curves were attacked and Linda quickly understood the reason for racing seats with high side bolsters in the lead Outlaw that held her in place as we zipped left to right around Grant Mountain.
Excitement came as Grant Mountain Road turned sharp right and Lynda Road veered off to the left. The lead Outlaw followed the natural left turn and then quickly saw the “No Outlet” sign and realized the turn had been missed. There is nothing like having to turn around a line of 10 Porsches on mountain roads. But, we were off and running.
NC-9 towards Black Mountain is a favorite, consisting of elevation and nice sweepers. The pace was good but we soon came across two Minivans traveling 25 mph even though the speed limit is 35 and the road can be driven quite a bit faster. We were dying behind this vehicles but solid yellow lines and 10 cars in a line required us to plod along.
NC-9 is Peter’s playground for his 912 since it is in his backyard so the first sign of a dotted line passing zone and he was off. The rest of us had to suffer through a slow painful drive up a great driving road.
Upon arrival at the Straightaway, there were Allen and Beverly, Rick and Sharyn, and Peter and Claudia who had beat us to the restaurant. It was then that I learned that the final two cars had missed the route 64 byway and had driven the direct route to the Straightaway.
Everyone paired off sitting at socially distant tables and enjoying each other’s company and dinner together after a couple of short drives.
So the article and the day started with the question: “Should our Air-Cooled Porsches be used to socialize or to drive?” My conclusion is it should serve both purposes but if I have to lean one way, I would say the real reward is the great friends we have made and how we enjoy each other’s company so much.
Great insight as the 2020 driving season winds down and the Commander starts to think about drives for 2021.
Enjoy the photo gallery below of photos from Carl von Schummer, Mark and Amy Feightner, David Liinton and Jim Moore (hit arrow to scroll through photos)
Hit Arrow to Scroll Through Photos
Tags: Driving air-cooled Porsches, air-cooled Porsches, Point Lookout Vineyard, Straightaway Cafe